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7 – 14 July 2024
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William Tilmouth

William Tilmouth

Male Elder of the Year

William Tilmouth is an Arrernte man, born in Mparntwe (Alice Springs), Northern Territory. As a member of the Stolen Generations, William was taken to Croker Island Mission where he lived and attended school. Five of his siblings were taken to Adelaide and he and two brothers to the other end of the country north of Darwin. In 1967, he was moved off the Mission to Darwin, and ended up in the juvenile justice system for leaving the mission home. He attended the Aboriginal Community College in Adelaide in 1974 and worked in many jobs in South Australia. In 1980 he returned home to Alice Springs, and hasn’t left since. William worked for Tangentyere Council as a community worker, supporting people who were homeless by creating shelters and providing access to basic needs and also at the Alice Springs Youth Support Services supporting young people at risk. He was elected by the Elders and offered the opportunity to become the Executive Director of Tangentyere Council - a position he held from 1988-2010. William was also elected to the Central Australian ATSIC Regional Chair position, the Chair of Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Service and sat on a range of committees including housing and research ethics committees. After his time at Tangentyere Council, William became the Chair of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Health Service.

Since 2011, William has been the founding Chair of the ground breaking organisation Children’s Ground. Children’s Ground was designed by First Nations people for First Nations people - our solution for our people. It is designed to disrupt the status quo and create transformational change for future generations so that they can enjoy justice, opportunity and agency over their lives.  

Following the vision and direction from Elders, Children’s Ground is an ambitious 25-year strategy that supports each child and family within a whole of community approach. Children’s Ground honours culture, language and identity, delivering access to education, health, cultural and economic opportunities. Led by local communities, the solutions are found in our culture, through our land, our kinship, our lores and our knowledge systems. Through William’s leadership people are empowered to practice self-determination, uplifting local community governance which is thriving and is the heart and soul of Children’s Ground.

William is a recognised and respected leader in the Northern Territory and throughout Australia. He has dedicated his life to his people to prevent the trauma of previous generations. As a member of the Stolen Generations, William has overcome poverty, incarceration, injustice and inequality and has survived trauma to become a respected role model for Arrernte and all First Nations people.

More recently, he was a key advisor for the 2019 film In My Blood It Runs.

William’s work will ensure that future generations of First Nations children can exercise their rights and their voice, their culture and their identity.

Welcome to NAIDOC.

We acknowledge all First Peoples of the beautiful lands on which we live and celebrate their enduring knowledge and connections to Country. We honour the wisdom of and pay respect to Elders past and present.